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What Is Habitat? - Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:01 Definition of Habitat
  • 0:57 Habitat Examples
  • 2:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Most people would agree that there's no place like home. In this lesson, we'll examine the biological version of a home, known as a habitat. It's important for us to know what makes up our habitat as well as other organisms' habitats.

Definition of a Habitat

Think about your home. You probably woke up this morning in your bed. After getting dressed for school, you might have opened the refrigerator in your kitchen to grab some milk for your cereal and then you might have hugged your parents and pet your dog before heading out the front door. These interactions all took place in your habitat. A habitat is the natural home or environment of a plant, animal, or other organism. It provides the organisms that live there with food, water, shelter and space to survive.

Habitats consist of both biotic and abiotic factors. Biotic factors are living things. For example, the biotic factors of your home would include those you live with: your parents, your siblings, even your cat or dog. On the other hand, abiotic factors are nonliving things. This would include your bed, refrigerator, milk and even your cereal.

Habitat Examples

Every living organism has a habitat. Habitats vary greatly from organism to organism, because all living things have different needs for survival. Some species have flexible habitat needs, while other species require very specific habitats in order to survive.

Take, for example, the pitcher plant, a unique carnivorous plant found in the eastern United States. These plants survive by trapping and digesting small insects. They are found in boggy areas that lack a lot of minerals but have a lot of moisture and receive a great deal of sunlight. They also require soils that have a low pH level. Given these specialized habitat requirements, there are not a lot of places in which the pitcher plants can thrive, and many species of pitcher plants are now considered endangered as a result of habitat destruction. Habitat destruction is a process in which the natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. As more humans move into these areas and invasive plant species are introduced, the habitats of pitcher plants decrease greatly.

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